Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January Update: 2017 Accomplishments and 2018 Goals

Here we are. Another year of my writing blog. I've made some amazing headway in the last seven years. Three more years to reach my ultimate goal--the goal I started this blog for. I feel like I'm on the right track. I just need to quit putting the cart before the horse and quit rushing. Slow and steady will get me to my goal. And the baby steps along the way make it all possible. My yearly goals are the key to that.

So, speaking of goals, for 2017, my goals were to do the following (I've added in parenthesis the degree of completion for each):

  • Write Scions of Mythos (wrote roughly half of the book)
  • Sell or self-publish Monsters of Lawrence (I queried it a lot, but didn't sell)
  • Send Towers of Kansas to beta readers and incorporate their edits (done)
  • Finish the first season of my adventure novellas (done)
  • Start the second season of my adventure novellas (done)
  • Write at least six stories for the Cafe and keep the Cafe running (done)
  • Edit Druid Wars Book 1 for beta readers (didn't finish, but made good progress)
  • Start writing Druid Wars Book 2 (have decided to put off writing second books in series until I get a book picked up)
  • Do dev edits for Online Dating for Demons (pushed this back a year)
  • Help run Reader Con in October (con was canceled, sad face)
  • Write a blog update every month, even if I have nothing to report (done!)

I had a lot of lofty goals, and while not all of them were 100% completed, I feel really, really good about where I'm at, especially since I battled depression most of last year. I mean, look at what I accomplished.

In 2017, I:
  • Finished editing Towers of Kansas (and sent it to my brother and sister to read)
  • Finished writing the first season of my adventure series
  • Started the second season of my adventure series
  • Did most of the edits on the first book in the Druid Wars series
  • Wrote over 10k words on a new project during NaNoWriMo
  • Wrote a flash fiction for the 24-hour writing contest
  • Wrote six stories for the Confabulator Cafe
  • Wrote over 50k words on Scions of Mythos
  • Won the story-in-a-bag contest at ConQuest
  • Brainstormed nine ideas for short stories and novels
  • Managed the Cafe so that it had at least four stories most months in 2017
  • Sent out 60 queries for book one (and got two partial requests)
  • Wrote blog posts every month this year
  • Beta read two novels for writing group friends
  • Overall, wrote 115,636 words on various projects and spent 101 hours editing
  • And in addition to all of that writing, I also had three different freelance editing clients, where I edited two novels, one novella, and three short stories in an anthology.

I learned a ton about querying and self-publishing. I've developed something of a system for editing, so now I almost enjoy the editing parts more than the writing parts. I completed a full year of tracking my writing and editing habits, so I have a more realistic idea of what I can do in a year. Which means I have a better plan going forward.

No more writing full series all at once. I'll finish up book three of MystWatch then self-publish it, but I need to write more first books and query those. When they get through the querying process with no luck, then I can focus on writing additional books for self-publication, but right now it is frustrating that my best book to date is the second book in a series. 

So I guess what that means is, I'd like to be able to write two books a year: one for querying, and one for self-publication. As long as they aren't massive 125k-word books like the MystWatch books, that should be do-able. I averaged around 115k words a year the last two years, which isn't quite two books, but once I start publishing, I'll buckle down and push that a bit. It's like doing a budget. You have to spend some time analyzing your spending before you can implement spending goals.

My goals aren't as lofty this year, but they're pretty serious. I need to get them done so I can stay on-track. I've been wishy-washy about these projects for awhile, but now it's time to buckle down and do them. And I have a whole year to do them without too many other projects as a distraction.

Here are my goals for 2018:
  • Finish writing Scions of Mythos
  • Send Druid Wars to beta readers, incorporate feedback, and hopefully start querying it this year
  • Edit Online Dating for Demons
  • Write at least four stories for the Confabulator Cafe (and keep it running)
  • Start a brand new project for Nanowrimo
  • Finish the first adventure in season two and start the second adventure for Sally Prescott
  • Volunteer at ConQuest
  • Write at least one blog post a month here.

Those goals are, notably, in order of importance, and the first three are the ones I absolutely must do. The others I will let slide if it comes down to it, but those three are the core of this year. Oh, except for the blog posts here. Those keep me accountable, keep me motivated, and keep me apprised of the big picture. Without the big picture, without looking back to see what I've accomplished on a small and on a large scale, the momentum would peter out and I'd be dead in the water. Even if I have nothing to report, it's still important for me to update this blog.

I also know I will be editing at least a few books from Bottle Cap Publishing. I'm not sure if I'll have any other freelance clients, but BCP should keep me plenty busy outside of my own work. And I will probably have beta reads from my writing group friends, which I always enjoy.

So that's it. Here's to a brand new year of writing, and another few steps closer to getting published.

What a journey it has been.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December Plan Update (Part 3)

Wow. It's amazing how absolutely useless I become when I hit vacation mode.

It turned out, I had a project that lasted until halfway through Wednesday last week at work, so I spent the remainder of the day chilling and messing around. And then I was in full-swing holiday mode. Stockings on Wednesday night; presents, baking, and going out to eat on Thursday; chores and errands on Friday; not getting dressed until 2pm, and then some Yule stuff on Saturday; shoveling snow and grocery shopping and Christmas Eve movies while drinking Bailey's on Sunday; and Christmas Day was filled with cooking and eating and more Christmas movies.

Today I stared down my to-do list and managed to get two things accomplished. One of those was not writing. Oh, and more snow shoveling.

That being said, I did get two scenes of about a thousand words written on Scions of Mythos during all of that. It's not nearly as much as I had hoped to get done in the last week, but they were good scenes. I've also spent a lot of time thinking about the book and living in the Mythos world. so while there's minimal forward motion on the actual story, I'm comfortably settled in the setting so that I'm ready to write when I finally sit down to it.

I sent off book two to my brother and sister yesterday for Christmas. I did not end up doing the last tweak I had planned. Every time I sat down to do it, I was equal parts overwhelmed by the task and apathetic about the importance of it. I've decided, ultimately, that it might be a nice setting thing to add at a later date, but that it won't have any impact on the story. At best, it's a way to mark the passage of time in the book. At the least, it's another way to make the book more unmistakably Lawrence, and to add some more character development to a few of the Hunters. Neither of which seemed pressing enough to try to cram in when I had plenty of other things to keep myself occupied before Christmas.

I now have two more days of vacation at home before I head to see the family for New Years. I'm hoping to poke at my book at least a little. A few thousand words would be great.

I wanted to be at 60k before the end of this year, but I find that unlikely now. If I can get to 55k, I'll consider it a win. Because I got to thinking about how book one and book two both ended up around 110k-115k words after the first draft. Revision drafts and editing grew them to the 120k mark. So I don't have to write 120k words for book three to be "done." Aiming for 110k might be better so that I have room to go back and add stuff.

Because let's be honest, here. It's the last book of a trilogy. I'm going to get to the end and realize I have about a million loose ends to tie up somewhere in there.

So. If I can get to 55k this year, I will be halfway through the book. As official of an approximation as I can get.

So yes. I have revised my plan again. Fewer words. But more realistic goals. I feel good about this, now.

I may not update again before the first of the new year. I'll be with family and it's my birthday weekend. But. I may have news on how my siblings like the book, and I may want to do one last update on my final word count for the year.

And then, next week, I will do my yearly "where am I going, where have I been" post for my goals and accomplishments.

Those are always very motivating for me. I tend to get lost in the minutiae, so it's good for me to look at the big picture from time to time. What better time than the first of the new year?

Hope you all had a merry Christmas and have a lovely New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

December Plan Update (Part 2)

Things are still going pretty well this month, although I've had to adjust my plan again.

The line edit for Towers ended up turning in to a pretty in-depth copy edit. It took me about twenty hours to get through it and make the fixes I wanted. It could still use some spit and polish, but I think it's a much tighter, more coherent book now. I have one last tweak I want to make, and then it'll be as ready as it's going to get in order to send to my brother and sister for Christmas. I may do another pass on it one of these days, although for right now, my energies should probably go toward other edits.

That leaves me yet another week behind and in need of dropping yet another project. Five in a month was nuts. Four in a month was reasonable but ambitious. Three is probably more December-speed.

So. Since I'm already deeply entrenched in the Mythos world, I'm going to step back in to writing book three once I'm done my book two edits. That makes the most sense, anyway. When I decided to drop Witches, it didn't really make a lot of sense to throw another world in there. As much as I would have liked to make some progress on Sally Prescott, it's also a low priority. Besides, I'm not in the right headspace for her right now.

I will check back in after this weekend, but as of right now, my revised plan for December ended up being:
  1. Finish Cafe Story
  2. Edit Towers of Kansas
  3. Write words on Scions of Mythos
I'm not too worried about word count goals anymore. I wrote a couple thousand words for the Cafe story. I added about a thousand words on the book two edit, and I hope to be able to write that 10k I was aiming for on book three. So maybe something like 15k for the month. That's about average this year, and equals about a thousand words a day each day for the rest of this year.

Now, I know I won't write every day. But. I average around 1200 words a day when I'm really working, so I can afford to take a couple of days off. And tonight is the new moon. After going back to track the last year, it seems like I'm most productive editing-wise leading up to the new moon and more productive writing-wise leading up to the full moon. Most months, anyway. So yeah! The next two weeks should be good.

I've also spent some time putting together a business plan for when I submit book one to one last publishing company when they open in January. It's a last-ditch for this book as far as traditional publishing. For now, at least. Which does make it a little harder to work on book three. But at the same time, also less hard. I'm not writing book three for a larger audience anymore. I'm writing it for me and for my writing friends and my siblings. Knowing my audience will be nice. Not getting hung up on what other readers will think should really free up my creativity. It's allowed to be mediocre. Although it turns out I really, really love book two. I'm proud of how it all came together. I know I will love book three just as much.

But I digress.

I'll update how this thrice-revised plan is going next week. Until then, peace be with you.